Pima County Board of Supervisors approves renaming Mission Library for Supervisor Elías

(Tucson, AZ) Pima County’s Mission Library, opens a new window will from now on be known as Richard Elías-Mission Library, after the late Board of Supervisors Chairman. 

The Board of Supervisors at its Oct. 20 meeting voted to rename the library in honor of Elías, who died unexpectedly on March 28. The Board also approved $6 million in future capital improvements to the library, located at 3770 S. Mission Road.  

“I think this is a fitting tribute to him,” Board Chairman Ramón Valadez said at the Oct. 20 meeting. 

Elías was a lifelong book lover and supporter of the library system. Through his work in the nonprofit sector and later as an elected leader, Elías championed literacy programs in the community like Literacy Connects, Reading Seed (tutoring young children in reading, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson (assisting parents on literacy and reading skills), and Stories that Soar!

Supervisor Betty Villegas, who was appointed to fulfill the remainder of Elías’ term, shared a letter from a longtime friend of Elías at the Board meeting, Bob Diaz, who recalled his memories of growing up with the late supervisor and spending many hours in what was then Tucson’s Main Library downtown. 

Diaz recalled how his friend was a voracious reader and always eager to learn. “He was a trailblazer on so many issues that touch our lives every day,” Supervisor Villegas said. 

Other regional elected officials and former colleagues who attended the Supervisors meeting praised the District 5 supervisor for his work and commitment to the people in the community. 

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero also expressed her admiration for the late supervisor. 

“Our community has lost a kind, generous soul and a fighter for social justice, the environment and working people,” Romero said. “He understood the complexities of devoting a life to public service. May we all continue to be inspired by Richard’s tireless work.”

The renaming of the library is part of an agreement between the city of Tucson and the County to transfer the library to the county. As part of that plan, the library will receive $6 million in improvements. The work will include increasing the size of the library from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, and making mechanical, electrical, and plumbing improvements. 

“Former board Chairman Richard Elías was a true public servant,” said Amber Mathewson, Pima County Public Library Director.  “Pima County Public Library is better for his decades of support and advocacy. Renaming the Mission Library to the Richard Elías-Mission Library is a fitting tribute for a man who was always on our side.”

To align with the County’s policy of allocating one percent of the value of capital expenditures to public art, a tile mural is planned for the library. The mural will represent the various public service commitments and community values of Elías.  

Elías was appointed to represent District 5 in 2002. He won elections in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.